Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu - AP - 05092011
Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu last year. Photo by AP
Text size

The deteriorating relations with Turkey due to the Palmer report and Egypt's reactions to the events on the border should have signaled to the government that a nonrenewal of the talks with the Palestinians risks losing our strategic alliances with Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.

It will be sad for Israel to discover that the stasis stemming from Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to accept the 1967 borders as the basis for talks on the grounds that they are indefensible will lose Israel the diplomatic depth it won in the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.

With the upgrading of the Palestinians' diplomatic status after their application to the United Nations, and in the absence of a diplomatic process, Israel might find itself forced to deal with new and prolonged waves of protest. These protests are liable to degenerate into uncontrollable violence. Almost certainly these events will be ignited in the squares of Cairo, Amman and Istanbul as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinians. Then the shock waves will set in motion the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, even if the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas believes that violence and terror harm the Palestinian interest.

The pictures these events will yield will serve the religious-diplomatic worldview of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who against the backdrop of the rise of Iran and the decline of Egypt and Saudi Arabia is steering Turkey toward taking positions in the conflicts in the Middle East. If he has taken a stance on President Bashar Assad's regime in the bloody events in Syria, he will definitely do so on Israel in its conflicts with the Palestinians in the territories, which the whole world defines as occupied and where it wants to see a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Egypt, under Mohammed Tantawi's temporary leadership, as well as Jordan and King Abdullah, will not be able to withstand for long the masses' pressure for demonstrations of Arab solidarity with the Palestinians. This pressure will increase many times over when Egypt has an elected government, which will include the Muslim Brotherhood, and when Abdullah's attempts to contain the Arab Spring by joining the wealthy and beneficent "Gulf front" fizzle out.

Egypt and Jordan, even though they are up to their necks in domestic problems and dependent on American aid, will find it hard to ignore the tweets on Twitter and the Likes on Facebook that will inundate the Arab world with impressions of the clashes between Israel and the Palestinians. Though all the parties in Egypt signed the Al-Azhar agreement, which included the provision honoring the peace accord, the accord is liable to become de facto nonbelligerency, and the recall of the last Arab ambassador from Israel will be only a matter of time.

The renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians with a view to reaching an agreement based on U.S. President Barack Obama's speech will not transform the Arab world into Zionists. But it will dilute the gasoline fumes that could spark a conflagration that could damage Israel.

Renewing negotiations would indicate Israel's willingness to distinguish between the good guys who favor a compromise and the bad guys who reject one and are coalescing against it. It would also enable the United States and Europe to act against Iran's intention to obtain a military nuclear capability. This capability would entail an arms race and a change in the regional balance of power that would undermine the stability Israel so badly needs.